Talk about teaching your kids about the importance of fitness from Day 1: Calum Neff of Texas just broke a Guinness World Record for a half-marathon with a baby on board! Neff’s daughter Holland was riding in their Thule Glide Jogging Stroller when Neff beat the world record for a half-marathon run by a man while pushing a stroller this February, finishing in 1 hour, 11 minutes, and 27 seconds.
Neff’s passion for running is likely to pass on to the next generation, given that he’s been running races since he was 4! But of course, most parents who want to jog with their kids aren’t dedicated athletes – you’re just trying to stay in shape and bond with your kid while you’re at it. So, here are a few beginner tips:
1) Wait until your baby is old enough. The important thing is that they have strong enough neck and core muscles, and various experts say that may be anywhere between 6-12 months. For your peace of mind and ours: get the okay from your pediatrician before you get started.
2) Choose the right stroller. The Two Saving Sisters blog recommends investing in the best stroller you can afford, and giving it a really good try-out before you buy (which you can do at any Magic Beans store). We’ve given all of our joggers extensive tryouts and we have very passionate opinions on our favorites, but strollers and parents have a range of personalities, so give them all a push to find the right match! You’re going to be traveling many sweaty miles with your jogging stroller, so take the time to find one you really love: you don’t want a stroller that annoys you to get in the way of your fitness plans.
Whatever you do, make sure that you’re using a stroller that’s MEANT for jogging. While the brand Baby Jogger makes some wonderful jogging strollers, most of their strollers that we carry are only meant for use at lower speeds. A proper jogger will have three BIG wheels (usually air-filled), really terrific suspension to cushion the bumps, and a front wheel that’s either fixed or lockable. Don’t run without those features!
3) Don’t expect to cover a lot of ground. Writer Lynn Olanoff is a dedicated runner, but she writes that she’s never done more than four miles at a time with her jogging stroller. Don’t worry about your pace, either: even the lightest jogger is a lot to push, and you should think of it as a resistance workout that works your core and your back along with being terrific cardio. Running coach Brad Hudson writes for Competitor.com, “Having a baby in your life is a huge adjustment, so you shouldn’t overdo any of your training at first. Go easy on yourself.”
4) Make sure that your baby has a full tummy and is happy and comfortable. Olanoff writes that the only time her baby has cried during a run was when he was hungry. So: feed your child before you get started, and bring along snacks and drinks for older toddlers to keep them occupied and cheerful. (One of the neat little features on the BOB FLEX Jogging Stroller: it has sweet little mesh pockets in the stroller seat that can hold snacks and toys!)
5) Scope out your route in advance. Ashley at Never Homemaker writes: “Things like uneven sidewalks or curbs can be dangerous. Same thing with traffic. Your favorite 3-miler might be impossible with a stroller.” I agree with her that parks are great – if you’re here in Boston, the path along the Charles River Esplanades is about as good as it gets – it’s nice and flat (good for beginners) and the view is amazing. I also love the Southwest Corridor Path, which runs from Jamaica Plain to Back Bay.
6) Be ready for the weather. Keep in mind that you’re going to be working up a sweat, but your baby isn’t! Start by thinking about what you would be wearing if you weren’t running, and dress your baby accordingly. Sunscreen and sun hats are a must on sunny days, and use those handy peekaboo windows in your stroller canopy to check in on how your baby is doing.
There are zillions of other great tips out there for jogging with your baby: check out this exhaustive guide at BabyGearLab.com for a list of features to look for, and see their favorites! (Their fave is the Thule Urban Glide Jogging Stroller, which differs from the marathon-winning Glide in that the front wheel can be unlocked to swivel, making it usable for everyday errands along with serious runs. Cool!)